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Plants and Coffee

May 25th, 2022 at 03:11 am

I had coffee with one of my instructors to tell him I was leaving.  I'm a huge fan of who he is as a teacher and as a human.  He does a lot of film work as a sideline, and has the coolest ideas.  He's so interested in everything that our planned 45 minutes of coffee turned into 2 hours. 

Since I was already out and about I thought it was about time to buy some tomato plants and annuals for the patio.  Yikes, inflation has hit there too.  I ended up with smaller tomatoes for cheaper which I may live to regret and tried to be very strategic with purchased annuals, supplementing them with some things started from seed.  But man, sort of moderate to meh geraniums were $8-10.  All the cheaper ones left at our local nursery were salmon, and I wanted hot pink and white.  But another woman and I teamed together to sort through 50 flats, searching for red for her, and my white and pink.  I love to find someone else on a mission like me.  And we succeeded.

DD and her BF are safely in Scotland, recovering fron jet lag with a walk in Holyrood Park and a trip to her favorite ramen place. Her parents ate leftover pasta for dinner and enjoyed watching the baby bunnies who are unfortunately nested in our front planter box.  But they're adorable and likely have their eyes on my new plants.

Another Good Dog Day

November 6th, 2021 at 02:47 am

Well, we've had another good day with the dog.  She's still struggling to eat, but I've cooked her a chicken breast and found meatballs are the perfect method of getting the antibiotics in her. She even went for a little walk today.  Crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.

It was a busy day with the opening of a new writing lab in our business school.  It's nice to see corporate sponsorship for something like writing.  But it meant I'm behind in grading and planning, so much of the weekend will be devoted to that.  I've been trying to get a decent walk in every day and am listening to Roger Whitney, aka the Retirement Answer Man.  I think his podcasts are aimed for people with a bit more income and assets than we have, but they're interesting.  Anyone else listen to him? 

It will be back to 60 degrees here tomorrow, so hoping to get a few tulip bulbs in and perhaps a pot of soup made. 

We've also booked our DD's flight home from Edinburgh the first week in December. Her exams are all on line the following week, so we'll have a good stretch with her home.   She's really settled in there and loves the university.  I'm so proud and relieved that the semester has worked out so well for her. She'll head back there in January.  I'm hoping to use some air miles to pay for her next flights.

Happy Friday everyone!

 

 

Home on the Range

October 29th, 2021 at 03:25 am

About six weeks ago, our 15-year-old range gave up the ghost.  I ordered one from Best Buy which was supposed to arrive last week--but didn't.  Now they are having issues tracking it down.  Since September we've been making do with the gas burners which still work and a toaster oven.  Today I went back to Best Buy, cancelled the original order, and ordered a different one for delivery on Saturday.    They seem very short staffed.  Another gentlemen was also in the appliance section and said he'd been waiting 20 minutes for someone to help him.  I finally rounded up a couple of staff, but I'm fondly remembering the days when staff would follow you around and try to help.     Cross your fingers that this one actually comes.

I withdrew a bit more money from DD's 529 to help with the tuition bills, bought some Halloween candy which I'm trying hard to resist, and picked up the last load of seasonal veggies from the CSA.  Excited to try a new recipe for a trio of vegetable salads like the ones I remember from Germany--a carrot, a beet, and a celeriac one.  I may even make the cucumber one too. 

School is busy, but it's midterm. 

 

 

So Many Things to Think About

October 20th, 2021 at 09:00 pm

Nothing like the middle of the semester to get me mired in thought.  I'm thinking about good students, bad students, disappearing students, and fraught committee work.    I'm also thinking about retirement.  I posted a question on the forums after learning some of my friends are either already taking Social Security or planning on taking it early.  Has the advice changed on that? 

Other things on my mind are the tuition bill juggling for DD's fabulous Scotland education.  She's having a grand time after a few blips.  But DH and I need to make some decisions about whether and when we might move to the UK. 

And then I think about mundane things like food budgets and decluttering and whether we should redo a bathroom here.  I should think about cleaning the house, but just thinking about that was made me decide to go for a walk in the wondrous autumn weather while it lasts. 

It's So Quiet...........

September 16th, 2021 at 03:28 am

Yeah, that's how I feel all the time with our DD gone to uni.  It's so quiet. No Taylor Swift blasting all over the house, no Phoebe Bridgers going long into the night, no endless phone calls.  I do video chat with her a lot, but those other 23 hours are eerie.

In money news, I took a bunch of my university gals out for dinner.  It's an annual tradition my mom started as a way of showing her friends how much she appreciated them.  We had a lovely patio dinner on Saturday night, and it was great to see everybody.  Our usual coffee shop grading and office hours have sort of dried up.  After teaching hours masked, we all want to hunker down in our offices, shut the door, and unmask for a bit.  Another reason to all get together.

Day to day spending has been minimal.  I've become a library regular again, deciding to read all the Ian Rankin Rebus mysteries in order for the fun Edinburgh setting.  Lots of cooking happening here too and much decluttering. I've made appointments for free flu shots, the dentist, and an eye check. 

We've paid the first installment of DD's housing, and I'm tapping into the 529 as her tuition bill is coming up.  Not much else new.  It's very busy at school, and I have tons of committee work this year.  I mostly stagger home, make dinner, watch the news, and start the process for the next day.  More money news coming soon.

 

 

Running Around

August 6th, 2021 at 01:26 am

I feel like I made about 100 stops today--all errands.  I bought a new family room rug on FB.  I love it.  It's a year old, sells for $800 on Overstock and I paid $75.  We hauled it home, set it out in the sun to air it out, and brought it in.  Lots of fun!  DD and I went to pick up our CSA veggies, went for a pre-flight COVID test, dropped off veggies that won't keep or get eaten with a friend, returned library books, went to the bank, got coffees, then came home made lunch and hung laundry on the line.  After lunch we picked up prescriptions, bought a few things at the drugstore, replenished our mask supply and zipped up and weighed one of DD's bags.  Happily it both zipped and came in underweight.

We're awaiting the COVID test results and then will try to figure out how to upload them to the various flight portals.   Off to finish laundry and do some housekeeping!

 

Monday and August Updates

August 2nd, 2021 at 10:17 pm

I spent much of the day untangling messes at the university.  Three of "my" lecturers have found mre lucrative jobs, and we're facng our usual budget constraints.  Another quit this morning, so I'm scrambling for class coverage in a month.  Instead of hiring new people, we're going to try to offer overloads.  After the furlough cuts of last year, I've had a good response to my offers.   And I keep thinking about retiring. 

But enough about work headaches, we're nervous but excited about returning to Scotland. DD has found affordable (?) housing in one of those new privately run sorta dorms.  She'll have her own room and bathroom but share a kitchen and common space.  So far her new kitchen/pod mates include a girl from Trinidad, an Irish girl, and three boys from Aberdeen.  Sounds chaotic, but I think she's up for it.  We managed to cash flow her tuition last year and without housing costs, the year was under budget.  We're going early as my close friend (from second grade!)is getting married in northern Minnesota at the end of the month.  While we'll be gone two weeks, we'll get a chance to see DH's family and friends at the other end of the country too. 

We'll need to get DD a phone plan, a bank account, and an NHS doctor.  She'll need things for her room and the kitchen--most of which will be purchased there.

No matter what, it's kind of an expensive trip.  Airfares from Chicago through Dublin to Edinburgh are cheap-ish these days, but parking, airbnbs, trains, meals, etc, it all adds up.  But I'm focused on only one meal a day out and looking very much forward to it.  My English husband has never been to Scotland, so while we won't be able to fit everything in, it should be fun--and great to go away.  Sadly for me, my only moments in London will be the tube changing trains in Kings Crosss and emerging at Waterloo.  I may leave the family with the bags during the hour layover and go out and gaze at the Thames from Waterloo Bridge--sighing deeply.

 

 

March? Really?

March 1st, 2021 at 02:45 am

How on earth is it possible that it's March tomorrow?  It seems incredible.

My DH and I were taking a walk this afternoon and talking about how a year ago our daughter was prepping for her AP exams and trying to make college choices.  It seems like forever ago.

But we're all healthy and all employed and not spending much at all.  I've decided to use two days of my spring break to go over all our accounts and do some serious retirement plannng as well as ensure we have enough for DD's remaining years at university.  I'm confident we do, but would like to see the numbers.

March 1 is also a big day for educators (me) and grocery workers (DD) as eligible for the vaccine.  We've managed to secure appointments through a lot of screen refreshing, so we should (crossing our fingers) be vaccinated by the end of the week.  I'm pretty darn excited. 

We have a few things coming up including a food drive at church and muffin making for a local organization that packs meals for the homeless.  And that's it for Sunday night. 

 

One More Set

December 21st, 2020 at 04:35 am

I've finished grading all the projects which seem to have been better than I expected.  There were some awful ones, but far more excellent ones than I usually see.  I don't know what that means, but I'm happy about it.

And speaking of good news--my DD got her French grades back from her first semester.  Very nice praise and a grade A n French.  She's so relieved.

I spent nothing today, leaving the house only to go for a midafternoon walk.  I finally got the pine boughs into the planters and tied up some found birch logs with a big red bow for a few more outdoor decorations.

It's going to be a busy week. Looking forward to finishing my grading tomorrow!

 

Still Grading

December 19th, 2020 at 06:47 am

Oh yes, I am still grading.  It's going faster today, but I had meetings with a couple of people who report to me--one of whom won a big grant.  That's really good news for him.  He's an innovative and caring instructor but with no real job security, so this will help with summer funding and some more stability for him.    His office is next to mine, and I used to see him a lot--and so it was extra fun to Zoom with him and meet his small daughter.  I miss my staff!

In the never ending attempts to clear things out of here, I sold an unused soup pot today.  It was a pretty pot, but I have two favorites already.  A hefty $5 goes into my fun fund when fun restarts.  I also cashed out $25 on Swagbucks which probably indicates I'm spending too much time on the computer.

My DD finished her first set of exams for University of Edinburgh today.  She feels good about them, but we're both pretty darn tired of online education.  All of that, a pot of minestrone and calzones for dinner just about rounds out the day.  Look for that same headline tomorrow.

 

 

It's Been A Time

October 13th, 2020 at 02:24 pm

Well, I'm not even sure where to begin with our Scottish adventure. And I'm not sure how I feel about what's happened. But here goes.

Our DD and I left on September 9 and had a long multi-stop, but mostly uneventful series of flights. We landed in Edinburgh, found a cab, and got to the airbnb without incident. And the airbnb--well out of the city center--was lovely. The wonderful landlady/hostess had picked up groceries so we could self-isolate. DD and I did take long walks along the Firth of Forth and to parks, and along the Waters of Leith, but no interactions with people. We had another grocery delivery, and I taught online successfully. We really enjoyed our two weeks together.

Then DD moved into her dorm room after a bit of shopping. Since it was the week following "freshers week," there was, as could be I guess be expected, a lot of mingling and an outbreak of COVID. I was due to stay in the airbnb for another week so we could get her settled, and because she had not been exposed, she came back to stay with me. She began her online studies, met all her instructors, bought books, joined her tutorials, and we did more sightseeing in our spare time. We climbed Calton Hill, went to Edinburgh Castle, art museums, and walked and walked all over town--the Old Town, New Town, the Meadows, everywhere.

We got her settled again back in the dorms, and the next day, two people on her floor tested positive. The entire floor was locked down (as were a huge number of other buildings and other floors) and they were not allowed out of their floor. Food delivery (sort of) began as they were not allowed into the cafeteria.

Two of those days, she received no food delivery at all. One day, she received two apples and a box of juice for breakfast. No one was allowed anywhere except the shared pantry, and they moved the positive cases elsewhere. After 10 days of this, she was due to come out of lockdown. Then someone else on the floor tested positive, and it began all over again. So at that point, the poor kid was locked into her 10x12 room with no human contact for 12 days.

She was pretty darn strong, but so unhappy. Student groups were calling it the Pollock Prison (the name of the dorm complex). It was apparent that this couldn't go on for her--as it threatened to keep happening.

So, we pulled her out. I rearranged her flights, made provisions for her to continue the rest of the year online, cancelled the housing contract, and brought her home.

We are all sad she had to come home, but it was clear the university was unprepared for this. The academic side of things is going really well; she's been doing online live tutorials, and she met people and has made arrangements to flat share next year. It's just not right to ask an 18-year-old to be locked in for weeks at a time. The university's food service has been overwhelmed, and the company who handled some of it has quit. They even asked for students, suited up in PPE, to deliver food to the hundreds of them locked down.

So, we're all home, all studying and working, and sad,glad, relieved, and disappointed. We both LOVED Scotland, and we can't wait to go back. More on the financial side of this when I sort things out.

Greetings from Scotland

September 11th, 2020 at 07:29 pm

On Wednesday DD and I arrived in Edinburgh for our 14-day self-isolation before she can start the university here. Because of the limited flight options we had a circuitous route from Milwaukee to Atlanta to Amsterdam to Edinburgh. I was far more apprehensive than usual about flying, but we seem to have gotten through things ok.

We had long layovers in both Atlanta and Amsterdam--about 10 hours total. In our terminal in Atlanta only one food option--Chinese food--which is not my favorite before flying with all that sodium. Amsterdam was a little more active, but we were so tired by then we mostly walked around and then sat and sat and sat some more.

We haven't seen much of Edinburgh as we're staying in the port area and are supposed to have no contact with people. Our airbnb host brought in our grocery order before we arrived, to avoid us shopping. We have been out for walks along the sea, but have spoken to no one except our taxi driver. Luckily the sea front is so beautiful, we've been happy enough staying in, watching TV, reading, cooking, and for me--working.

This is Day 3 of isolation; only 11 more to go!

Meetings Meetings Meetings

August 27th, 2020 at 12:36 am

The start of the semester meetings used to be fun. We'd bring in food, chat with folks we hadn't seen in a while, maybe go for coffee later. Instead today we had four hours of various zooms with the bad budget news tacked on to the end.

No new spending, leftovers eaten for lunch and dinner, and another meeting to plan tonight for delivery tomorrow.

I've added some $$ from SB and MyPoints to the 100K fund, but am sad to see my interest rate has now dropped to .6%. Ick.

Yesterday DD put in her notice at work, filed for her absentee ballot, and now we just wait for her passport.
It's gonna be a wild month for spending with airline tickets, housing, tuition, etc. Trying to be lean where and when we can.

Lots of Good News!

August 25th, 2020 at 04:46 am

Oh, what a good day! Her Majesty's Passport Office has cleared, printed, and sent DD's UK passport. We'll be able to avoid the visa process with its $500 fee and skip the NHS fees too. Now just waiting on its arrival.

In other good news, we took my car to the garage to investigate the annoying squeak. We were both sure it was shocks or struts. The mechanics all heard it too, but when they got it on the lift, they could see nothing amiss. And now the squeak is gone!

There's lots of bad news near us as you've perhaps heard. Wishing,hoping, praying and working for peace and justice.

Keeping On Keeping On

August 20th, 2020 at 01:30 am

We're still waiting on Edinburgh news and trying to keep busy while we wait. They've had two webinar/town halls--one of which guaranteed we'd have her necessary details to apply for her visa by the end of the month. And finally--eight days late, her passport documents have arrived in the UK. Trying to keep our eyes on the prize here.

I was delighted to see the news on record earnings at Target; I bought a lot of Target stock years ago, and have held it. It's one of the few individual stocks I own, and man, it's done well.

Besides a few quick purchases, that's all the news here. I ran into Costco this morning just for some salad mix, fizzy water, and a rotisserie chicken.

Eager to get out of the holding pattern and back to school. Someone please remind me of that when I start whinging about it.

Grocery Pick-Up Success!

August 15th, 2020 at 10:30 pm

Our infection rates are up around here, so I'm trying not to go out much. I did grocery pick-up today for the first time. Last spring we stuck to Instacart, then I ventured our for almost everything, but thought I'd give pickup a try. It worked out really well. I ordered online, and when I went to pick up they even took my paper coupons. I've been doing most of my big grocery shops at Costco, but have been spending too much--and that combined with efforts to donate a bag of food a week for our local food shelf has put a little too much of a dent in the food budget.

After that success I cancelled the Instacart subscription. With some forward planning we can handle the bulk of the shopping with pickup, an occasional Costco trip and maybe some fill-in fruit. Our CSA will run into October, and we have lots of veggies from them.

My DD is a little sad; still no concrete word from Edinburgh. None of the foreign students have received the required data for their visas yet. They're all in the same boat, but her local friends are all planning for college now--one left today.

And here's my rant today about the lack of USPS funding: Documents we mailed to the UK ten days ago have STILL not arrived. They were held in Chicago, 100 miles from our house for FIVE days. I'm madder than heck at the kind of shenanigans that pulls money out of this kind of essential service.

Happy Belated Blogoversary to Me!

August 12th, 2020 at 07:43 pm

I cannot believe it's been that long, but apparently yesterday was my lucky 13th Blogoversary. What? No card? No flowers?

Because I'm pretty sentimental I thought about all the folks who have traveled through this blogosphere like that lady from Atlanta, Retire at 50, the guy who was living in his car for a while, and another really funny one. Someone help me remember some of the others!

I've been determined not to go to the grocery store for another few days so we've had some slightly unusual meals. Last night's burgers were accompanied by kohlrabi fries. I just need to figure out what to do with the huge cabbage in the fridge. Maybe I'll try that eggroll in a bowl again. Or resort to store cupboard enchiladas for dinner.

In other mundane but satisfying news, my DD voted for the first time yesterday. I voted absentee, but am a dedicated voter, and hope she emulates that behavior. She was proud of her "I voted" sticker. And I cashed $35 out of SB and MyPoints to add to my big goal

I also did a usage test on some crackers, sampling three kinds they sent. For that I gained a $10 Amazon card that went for a wallet for DD. No other news--hard at work prepping for classes!

Starting the Day Right

July 21st, 2020 at 02:57 pm

I've noticed that if I get up and go for a walk for about 40 minutes before sitting down to work, my day goes so much better. I've been walking with DD almost every day, but that morning walk alone seems to clear my head and give me much more energy. And two walks a day seems like a good idea, right?

I've got a document to edit this morning for a university committee, and will also have to face some decisions about class cancellations. My dept chair would like to drop two more classes, and I'll have to decide whose will go. I'm asking him to just drop one, but our budget is dire for the department and university as a whole.

Lots of veggies from the CSA to use up. I made veggie enchiladas a couple of days ago, and the recipe made about twice the filling needed, but my DH is the king of leftovers, so he's been filling quesadillas with it. I've got my first cherry tomatoes and lots of peas from my planter box vines. I've never grown peas before, but they've done well in wheeled planters with a makeshift trellis repurposed from ancient tomato cages. And they have the added advantage of acting as a patio screen from the neighbors who must get sick of me hanging clothes and talking to the birds.

The big goal has been updated with some cash from Swagbucks and MyPoints. I seem to be able to hit those sites regularly now without papers to grade and while watching rom-coms and documentaries with DD. If you haven't seen "The Biggest Little Farm" on Netflix, I recommend it. It's a lovely film about a young couple trying to start an organic farm.

Wishing you all a lovely sunny cool day like we have here!

Waiting Waiting

July 20th, 2020 at 03:16 pm

I keep hearing John Mayer singing, "waiting on the world to change" in my head. Right now we seem to be waiting so we can take the next step and wait some more.

Our biggest wait worry is for DD's "CAS" number. I think (I'm foggy lately) I wrote that she's decided after all to go to Edinburgh for university. Her AP scores were excellent--all 5's--and she had an unconditional offer. But we need that number from the school so her visa can get started. Then we'll wait for the visa. Then we'll find a place for the mandatory two-week quarantine after arriving in Scotland. And flights, and packing. I'm going with her for the quarantine period and for a few more days. The university would provide isolation facilities, but we'll get an airbnb, order groceries in, and wait it out. I can't say I'm looking forward to that flight, but the infection rate is so much lower there, I'm happy she can get out of here.

I can teach online--and all my classes (and all my colleagues' classes) are online, so one of our airbnb requirements is great wifi and some outdoor space.

This will all be mightily expensive so we're saving and scrimping. And I'm learning all the rules for college spending. And I'm getting my classes as ready to go as possible. Waiting but busy.

Ugh, Taxes

July 16th, 2020 at 03:21 am

I'm not one to complain about paying my taxes. I support the necessary work of the government, but I knew, given my DH's better hourly rate this year we could be hit hard. And we were. My adjunct job has horrible bookkeeping and their withholding is always screwed up, so that made it worse. But heck, we had enough in the checking account to pay it, so onward.

Spending today was limited to selling my DD's AP prep books on ebay. One sold and we pocketed $5.80 after shipping. And her AP results came today--she's a superstar. Three 5s. Very proud mom here.

Now must do some minor belt tightening to make up for the tax bill. My adjunct university will probably not be in my plans this years. I'm too busy at regular work, so that withholding issue will be gone.

I'd love to turn off the A/C but it's rained buckets tonight and feels like the jungles of Brazil out there. Ugh.

College Student Finances?

July 6th, 2020 at 10:36 pm

Spending some time this week getting DD ready for university and looking for some ideas. She has a debit card, but I wonder if she should have a secured credit card? Or if we should get her a card on our account? It seems the secured card would help her build credit, and there are several with no fees. We'd link it to her checking account and pay it off every month.

Any advice? Ideas?

July? Really?

July 1st, 2020 at 08:39 pm

Though June seemed to last forever, maybe Paul Simon is right, and July, she will fly?

We started the morning picking strawberries at a local farm. We went early to avoid the heat, and picked just one flat. I'll make freezer jam tonight, but freeze others for smoothies and maybe a strawberry margarita or two. There'll be some for desserts and lots for just eating.

Got the news that DD's UK adult passport app has been received so that's good news. And we've switched our Friday summer lunches out to Wednesdays, so went to a cute nearby town on Lake Michigan for an outside deli lunch. Very hot here inland, but as usual, cooler by the lake. I've updated so saving figures, and need to make some appointments this afternoon. We're watching Neal Oliver's BBC History of Scotland which has been really interesting. Will do some university work tonight while DD is at her grocery job. I still can't get over the fact it's July.